New Zealand Rugby
Byrne eyes All Blacks coaching role
ESPNscrum Staff
November 20, 2011
All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen talks to the media, New Zealand press conference, Auckland, New Zealand, October 6, 2011
Steve Hansen is assembling his team of assistant coaches prior to interviews with the New Zealand Rugby Union © Getty Images

Coach Mick Byrne has confirmed his desire to be one of Steve Hansen's assistant coaches should the former No.2 succeed Graham Henry as All Blacks head coach.

Hansen is clear favourite to replace Henry before Christmas and must present his would-be assistant coaches during the interview process. Byrne, a skills specialist, has a strong relationship with Hansen and is eager to step up his coaching responsibilities within the All Blacks set up. Former Chiefs coach Ian Foster is also rumoured to be part of Hansen's proposed team.

"I've got on very well with Steve ever since I started working with the All Blacks," Byrne told the Sunday Star-Times from Japan. "I spoke to Steve two weeks ago and he's made me aware he's keen to talk to me further down the track so I'm looking forward to that discussion.

"It's then up to me to make sure I can do the assistant role. Moving up the coaching ranks is important now. I've done a lot of time in rugby.

"The next step is having more involvement in the day-to-day structure you're involved in and being part of setting the direction. It's now or never, really. I believe I've done enough learning and I'm ready to take the next role and get my teeth into it."

As an Australian and former Aussie Rules professional, Byrne's promotion to assistant coach of the All Blacks may cause some raised eyebrows in New Zealand. But Byrne is confident he has the correct credentials and experience to fulfil the job.

"There are some people out there that continue to say I'm not from a rugby background," he said. "People don't know the first game I played was rugby. I was brought up on rugby and rugby league.

"People say to me you won't get the assistant role with the All Blacks because you're an Australian. Fair enough, if that's what you think, but I've been with the All Blacks for six years now."

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